It was my first time in Sarajevo. Having not photographed with a film camera for some time, my anxiety was gone there and then. I loaded black and white film and went into the streets. Shooting digitally for the past year, I got used to seeing the pictures on the screen, adjusting the exposure and improving the composition, neither leaving a margin for error nor letting the unknown to interfere. Now I was doing the old thing – through the viewfinder into the world without thinking of the results.
I felt the freedom to walk and take pictures. I felt free to be in the mosque, synagogue, church. To be secular felt free and safe. To be a tourist felt free and comfortable. To hold the camera felt free and not intrusive.
Two days of acquaintance with the city is not enough for anything, so I am back. My head was and still is spinning from snatches of information, pockets of people separated or living together, bullet holes healing in the trees and gazing at you from the walls of houses, derelict and lived in.
Sarajevo is in the heart of Europe. Europe – that odd notion I love and call home, even though neither of my two homes – London and Moscow – are truly in Europe. In Sarajevo I felt I was finally at home in Europe, torn and worn, tolerant and impatient, warm-hearted and controversial.
When I processed those rolls of films some weeks later back in London, I was not sad to see one roll of double exposures. It was meant to be – what is lost is lost, and then again there may be surprises – urban and rural, muslim and christian, Bosnian and Serbian.
The series was shown at Hanikah Gallery, Sarajevo as part of the International Winter Festival 2014:
This is something really funny, exciting and full of emotions. (Ahmedin Huric)
The famous spirit of this city beautifully shown. (Azra)
Thank you. I enjoyed your perspective. (Djiki Djanka)
Beautiful and raw! Wonderful photos that captured the essence of life in Sarajevo. (Adriana)
I am impressed by “unwilling” capturing of multicultural richness of life in Sarajevo and elsewhere in this region! (Jasmina)
What you write about Sarajevo is so true! This place definitely has its own soul. I especially enjoyed the ‘double’ pictures – they show a complex-multicultural place. (Fanny)
So it is clear now that when we stop wanting to lead and manage everything, the best happens! Your ‘double pictures’ reveal a special atmosphere you get in Sarajevo. Probably photographers can show what words can’t. (Claire)